2024 | Volume 25 | Issue 3

The 2024 RACS Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) in Ōtautahi Christchurch was a golden opportunity for two international scholars to learn from the best and brightest. RACS Global Health team’s two ASC travel grant recipients, Dr Umesh Pradhan from Bhutan and Dr Micky Olangi from Solomon Islands, understand the importance of continuing their learnings beyond their ASC experiences.

Both Dr Olangi and Dr Pradhan felt the RACS ASC was the optimal balance of a professional and personal educational experience. From attending many workshops and sessions, they learned about the newest medical technology, differences in health care systems, and had glimpses into other surgeons’ ways of working, something no textbook can teach.

The strongest impression they felt was the engagement of the RACS ASC attendees. Both appreciated the proactiveness many Fellows showed in approaching them and, once finding out they were international surgeons, the questions and conversations that resulted.

Dr Umesh Pradhan, who is currently practicing as an otolaryngology head and neck surgeon at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Bhutan, aspires to teach in institutions like the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan. At the RACS ASC he networked with Fellows who had decades of experience and were further along in their careers. The experience of being treated as a peer was what stuck with him well after the talks concluded.

As the only general surgeon in Malaita Province of the Solomon Islands, Dr Micky Olangi from Kilu’ufi Hospital is often the only doctor capable of offering specialist surgical services to a population of approximately 162,000.

Thanks to the RACS Global Health ASC travel grant, Dr Olangi was able to present his abstract, ‘Diabetes-associated major limb amputation in Solomon Islands: epidemiological characteristics and clinical management’, which he co-authored with international colleagues, in-person to the ASC audience.

He says, “I would like to serve as a bridge between my Solomon Islands colleagues and those affiliated with RACS to generate research and establish long-term, sustainable collaborations that will ultimately benefit patients across the Solomon Islands.”

While having a similar long-term goal for his country, Dr Pradhan has a unique perspective. He says, “Advanced nations such as Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand resemble robust bodybuilders, possessing formidable strength in both their legs and arms. They exhibit remarkable humility in aiding countries like Bhutan and other island nations, akin to guiding infants as they take their initial steps forward.”

In the future, Dr Pradhan would like to continue collaborating with RACS, stating his goal to apply for the RACS Rowan Nicks Scholarship program. The late Dr Rowan Nicks (OBE, FRACS, AO) was one of the most respected Fellows of the College. Established in 1987, this flagship international scholarship program’s legacy of ’teach the teacher to teach others’ continues to this day.

Both Dr Olangi and Dr Pradhan enjoyed their ASC experiences. They will continue their work alongside RACS exchanging ideas and knowledge, which in turn supports their countries’ surgical care.

Images (left to right): Fellow A/Prof Hamish Ewing with Dr Micky Olangi; Dr Umesh Pradhan at the Convocation and Syme Oration with A/Prof Hamish Ewing